New findings from a modelling study published in The Lancet, estimates that the lack of preparedness and vulnerability of African countries, as well as their likelihood of importing COVID-19 cases from China, puts them at the highest risk of new coronavirus cases.
China is Africa’s leading commercial partner, and although several measures have been implemented to prevent the importation of cases, resources are lacking to limit and control transmission after importation.
While three-quarters of all African countries have an influenza pandemic preparedness plan, most are outdated and considered inadequate. In addition, despite efforts to improve diagnostic capacity from the WHO, some countries do not have the resources for rapid testing, meaning tests would need to be conducted abroad.
Egypt, Algeria and South Africa have the most prepared health systems on the continent although they are reported to have the highest risk of importing a COVID-19 case from China and least vulnerability. While other African countries are less prepared, more vulnerable and require more support.
The authors say their findings need to be interpreted in context, and that the overall risk of importing COVID-19 cases to Africa is lower than to Europe (1% vs 11%, respectively) but that the response and reaction capacity is more limited in Africa.